Travel numbers down compared to last year as South Florida tourism industry braces for holiday season

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Despite the surge in coronavirus cases in nearly all 50 states, many families are still planning to host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

The number of people traveling to South Florida is much lower than what it was last year. Even so, tourism industry officials are optimistic.

Carol Tracz is the director of sales and marketing at the famed Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Blvd. She said the occupancy numbers for Thanksgiving aren’t where they should be.

“Most of our hotels in Broward County and beyond in the tri-counties are seeing a dip in the occupancy,” said Tracz. “Occupancy is 40-60% less this year than last year for the Thanksgiving holiday.”

A good number of guests are from inside the state, including some locals on a staycation. With positive COVID-19 cases on the rise, the hotel is making safety a top priority and want guests to feel comfortable.

“We want everyone to know, it’s safe to come here, we’ll take care of you and you’ll be safe and healthy,” Tracz said.

Travel experts in Miami-Dade and Broward are saying that hotels have seen a slow, but steady climb since they were allowed to re-open in late spring, and with events like the Fort Lauderdale Air Show rescheduled for this weekend along A1A, its giving the hospitality industry a boost.

“That was allowed to happen because people can watch that show from their condominiums, their balconies, hotels along the beach,” said JoNell Modys with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Air travel is also picking up a bit, though not nearly close to last year’s holiday numbers at Miami-International Airport, but some remain hopeful.

“They are now at about 40% volume of passengers of where they were same time last year,” Rolando Adeo with Greater Miami Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “While people may not feel comfortable traveling next week or next month, we are confident that they will be traveling to Miami soon.”

The Fort Lauderdale Air Show will be taking place this weekend from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Northbound and Southbound A1A will be closed to traffic this weekend from Sunrise Blvd. north to NE 16th Street from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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